Ex-Ohio State prof sentenced for sharing work with China

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A medical researcher and professor who pleaded guilty to what prosecutors called a sophisticated scheme to transfer U.S.-backed research to China was sentenced Friday to 37 months in federal prison.

Song Guo Zheng, 58, who had been working most recently at Ohio State University, will also have to pay $3.4 million in restitution to the National Institutes of Health and nearly $414,000 to the college.

Zheng, of Hilliard, outside Columbus, and his research groups secured more than $4.3 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for projects while receiving overlapping funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to a criminal complaint.

Zheng worked in the division of rheumatology and immunology at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center. He pleaded guilty last November to one count of making false statements to federal investigators.

Zheng admitted he lied on applications in order to use the NIH grants to develop China’s expertise in the areas of rheumatology and immunology, prosecutors said.

Federal agents arrested Zheng in Alaska in May 2020 as, they said, he was attempting to board a private flight headed to China.

Before moving to Ohio, Zheng worked at the University of Southern California and Penn State University, according to the government. Ohio State fired Zheng after he “failed to disclose his extensive paid work at a foreign institution,” the school has said.

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